Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 vs. Apple iPad Air 2: Top tablets compared
Without much fanfare, Samsung on Monday unveiled the Galaxy Tab S2, its new flagship tablet and successor to last year’s excellent Tab S. The Tab S2 will hit stores worldwide in August, but before it does so, we thought we’d stack it up against Apple’s iPad Air 2 and see exactly what Samsung has wrought this time around. Does the Tab S2 have what it takes to unseat the current reigning champion of tablets? Let’s find out.
First and foremost, we’re not expecting Android users to switch to the iPad, or vice versa, based on the hardware and software design. So let’s not look at this from an OS perspective, at least not too closely.
Hardware-wise, it seems Samsung is taking a page out of its playbook for the Galaxy S6 — which in turn was influenced by the iPhone. For the first time, Samsung has adopted the iPad’s 4:3 aspect ratio for one of its Android tablets. “By recreating the same viewing experience of browsing through traditional print media, the Galaxy Tab S2 also makes it comfortable to read digital content, including e-books, magazines, webpages and newsfeeds. This reading-optimized ratio allows the user to enjoy a seamless reading experience without unnecessary scrolling.” So what happened to Samsung’s dedication to the theatrical 16:9 aspect ratio?
Quality of materials also gets a bump here. The Tab S2 has rounded silver metal edges that again call out to Apple’s design. It’s a little disappointing to see Samsung hew so closely to Apple’s products from last year like this; part of what made Samsung phones special were the differences, and at this point it’s starting to look a little desperate on Samsung’s part. That said, I can’t tell yet if the back of the Tab S2 is plastic, unlike Apple’s all-metal rear panel, or if it’s all metal; I’ll update this post when I get an answer.
The larger version of the Tab S2 measures 9.3 x 6.7 x 0.22 inches (HWD) and weighs 13.7 ounces. Compare that with the iPad Air 2: 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 inches and 15.4 ounces. Samsung made the Tab S2 thinner and lighter than Apple — if by a hair, thickness-wise — which is an impressive achievement indeed, given how featherweight the iPad Air 2 is to begin with.
Both tablets have ultra-sharp displays, with the same 2048×1536 resolution and 264 PPI. The displays themselves are quite different, though, with Samsung using its excellent Super AMOLED technology, and Apple taking the more traditional IPS route with its own Retina Display. If the Tab S2 is anything like the excellent Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4, it’s going to look stunning in person. I love the Galaxy Note 4’s display. And here, Samsung’s Adaptive Display auto-adjusts saturation, sharpness, and gamma levels based on the environment you’re using the Tab S2 in — it’s more than just an ambient light sensor, which mobile devices have had for years.
Underneath the hood, the S2 sports an Exynos 5433 octa-core (1.9GHz + 1.3GHz) processor, 3GB RAM, and a 5,870mAh battery. Apple has always played it fairly coy with its own lineup, saying just 64-bit A8X for the current model’s CPU; a teardown reveals 2GB RAM and a larger 7,340mAh battery. Samsung’s eight-core-chip sounds promising, and it’s certainly fast, but having so many cores isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Both models offer current-gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and the Tab S2 will also have an LTE model like Apple, although details and pricing remain unclear.
The Tab s2 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop. For security, the company added a fingerprint sensor to the Tab S2, and it also has preloaded malware protection. Expect fairly heavy customizations typical of Samsung, though the company has shown a bit more restraint in recent generations. The peak (or perhaps nadir) of its software customizations was probably the Galaxy S4; the S5 and now S6 are both a bit lighter and easier to use on the software front, and I’d expect that to continue with the Tab S2. The Tab S2 has a dual-app Pop-Up Window, letting you multitask in ways that you can’t yet with an iPad — at least not until iOS 9 comes out in October.
The Tab S2 comes preloaded with Microsoft Office Solutions, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. That said, you can get Microsoft Office for free on the iPad, as well as Apple’s own suite of office apps. All of these are plenty enough for real work, though you’ll want to add a physical Bluetooth keyboard or case to both of them for serious writing and spreadsheet hacking.
The two cameras on the Tab S2 are standard fare, with an 8-megapixel sensor around back and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing sensor for selfies. On paper, that’s the same as the iPad’s rear camera and more detailed than its front camera, but Apple always puts a ton of work into its cameras to ensure they’re better than they look from the specs. For example, the iPad Air 2’s rear camera sports an f/2.4 aperture five-element lens and a hybrid IR filter, whereas the front camera has a wide f/2.2 aperature. Samsung has so far said not much of anything about the Tab S2’s cameras, which is a little worrisome.
Samsung is actually selling the Tab S2 in two flavors: a 9.7-inch model (the same size display as the iPad Air 2) and an 8-inch model (with a display that’s a tenth of an inch larger than the iPad mini 3’s). Both start at 32GB, which is double the base iPad Air 2 storage, and unlike with the iPad, you can add a microSD card to either Tab S2 for up to 128GB of additional media (if not application) storage. The Tab S2 maxes out at 64GB internally, whereas you can get a 128GB iPad Air 2.
The Galaxy Tab S2 looks like a nice tablet, but somewhat disappointingly, it looks a bit like the company gave up and just copied the design of the iPad Air 2 a little bit too closely. Obviously using it will be very different — Android is just a very different OS than iOS, and has its plusses and minuses, and Samsung’s own customizations differentiate the Tab S2 from its Android brethren even further. But I feel Google’s own Nexus lineup — the Nexus 6 in particular — as well as some of what Motorola and now Asus are doing advances the Android cause more than Samsung is, and are more unique as a result.
Samsung’s latest tablet looks like a very high quality product — the company may not always make original hardware (with the Galaxy S6 Edge being a recent and awesome exception), but it pretty consistently makes great hardware. As is often the case, the pricing will make or break the Tab S2. If the base model Tab S2 matches the iPad’s $499, then you’ll get twice the storage and a slightly thinner and lighter tablet, with a more vibrant AMOLED display, for the same price by going with Samsung. That could be enough to sway some buyers, especially existing Android fans that have been waiting for a tablet that’s easier to browse the Web and read books on.
[“source – extremetech.com”]